This is how Google has blocked Amazon’s smart TV dream
Do you know why Amazon has not been able to bring its Fire TV platform on most smart TVs and cable set-top boxes globally? Blame it on Google.
Google can revoke the software licenses from Android TV makers if they also build devices running forked versions of Android, including Amazon Fire TV, reports Protocol.
Google's licensing terms for Android -- Android Compatibility Commitment - say that TV makers would no longer be able to run the Play Store and Google apps on any devices they build with other platforms like Fire TV, including phones and tablets.
"Amazon has sold millions of Fire TV streaming devices in recent years, but its efforts to expand the Fire TV platform to smart TVs and cable set-top boxes have been slow-going," the report mentioned.
The TV makers "cannot do Android TV and Fire TV simultaneously".
Google last year announced it struck deals with six out of 10 smart TV manufacturers and 140 cable TV operators across the globe.
"It basically blocked Amazon," a senior employee was quoted as saying.
Marc Whitten, VP and GM, Amazon's Fire TV, said recently: "We don't expect them to only use our services or our software. We think that partners should be able to pick the solutions that work for them, which may actually vary between lines of TVs, or different categories of devices and territories. I think that diversity of options is a really good thing".
Going against Google's licensing terms could be disastrous for TV manufacturers like LG and Samsung who also make smartphones that run Android OS.
The Google's Android Compatibility Commitment is a confidential set of policies -- formerly known as the Anti-Fragmentation Agreement -- that manufacturers of Android devices have to adhere to in order to get access to Google's Play Store and other apps.
According to Google policy, devices that want access to the Play Store must run a version of Android that's compatible with the Google-approved version of Android.
"That means if TV makers want to have the Play Store on their TVs, they can't make TVs with other operating systems a" like, for example, Amazon's competing Fire TV," reports The Verge.
Manufacturers that have signed on to the Android Compatibility Commitment for their mobile phone business are effectively not allowed to build Fire TV devices.
In 2016, the European Union took on to the tech giant during its antitrust investigation of the Android OS. The regulators alleged that the company was "preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code".
The probe resulted in a $5 billion fine against Google, which the company has appealed against. Both Google and Amazon are facing a tough battle against Roku in TV OS adoption.
Over 30 percent of all new TV streaming devices sold in the US in the first quarter of last year ran Roku software, according to Strategy Analytics. Amazon's Fire TV accounted for 12 per cent of devices sold, while Android TV counted for only 9 per cent.